The message to the Champlin Park boys basketball team all season was to take the season one game at a time.
The Rebels entered the season with high aspirations and they have so far been successful in completing their goals, with one big goal left: winning the Class 4A state championship.
“We have been locked in before this season even started,” Champlin Park head boys basketball coach Mark Tuchscherer said. “Our boys have made lots of goals along the way, some short term goals, as well as with that big, tough long term goal to achieve.
“We’re locked in, we’re ready to go. We have been working hard all year and we play a tough schedule on purpose so we can get ourselves prepared for this time of the year.”
The Rebels posted a 26-0 regular season record before opening the Section 5AAAA tournament with a 105-66 win over Irondale March 8.
“It was good to get that first one under our belt and get into the playoff run,” Tuchscherer said. “We’ve been ramping up for it, looking forward to the playoffs and we’re right here in the middle of it.”
Theo John led Champlin Park with 35 points and eight rebounds, while McKinley Wright added 18 points and a team-high nine assists. Brian Smith scored 12, Marcus Hill and Bennett Otto scored 11 apiece, and Josiah Strong added 10 for the Rebels.
Overall, Tuchscherer was pleased with what he saw from his team’s defense and ball movement in the win.
“We play a certain style of defense, but we have some wrinkles to our defense,” Tuchscherer said. “We tried some new things last week and I was happy with our defensively and obviously it’s going to ramp up even more as we’re going through the playoff run.
“I was also happy with how well we moved the ball. We shot the ball well, but we had 23 assists, which is four more than our average of 19, which is pretty darn good.”
After watching the Rebels in their first playoff game, Tuchscherer is confident his team can make the run it requires to complete its goals.
“I feel they are ready, and with that being said you have to go out there and prove it every single night,” Tuchscherer said. “Regardless of whether you feel you’re ready, you have to go out there and do it.
“Our boys know that. They have been through so many big games already this year and in their past that I feel we are ‘battle-tested’ and we have to be ready for whatever come playoff time.”
Despite having high aspirations, Tuchscherer has made sure his team will continue to focus on games one at a time. The game the Rebels’ were focused on most recently was the Section 5AAAA semifinal game against Mounds View March 14.
“We have done a good job of staying focused on one game at a time, and we focus on that a little more in the playoffs,” Tuchscherer said. “Mounds View is a good team that locked in and beat Centennial, but our boys will be locked in and ready to go.
“They’re focused on winning this next game.”
With a win, the Rebels will play in the Section 5AAAA championship game at 7 p.m. Friday, March 17, at Rogers High School.
Contact Chris Chesky at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris.